FTSE chairman Andrew Page feeling the pressure as both Cote and Northgate come under fire

Lucy White
Changes at board level at van hire company Northgate are justified, says Crystal Amber (Source: Northgate)

A well-known FTSE chairman has come under fire from investors, after three of the companies he currently presides over have fallen into trouble.

Andrew Page, senior independent director of Carpetright and chairman of restaurant chain Cote and commercial vehicle hire company Northgate, has been called a "hindrance" by Northgate investor Crystal Amber as the company's share price has failed to recover after a string of profit warnings.

Meanwhile Cote has fared little better, as it today revealed it might have to make a wave of closures across its Limeyard and Jackson & Rye brands, and Carpetright last month axed 92 outlets in a desperate effort to stave off administration.

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In a letter to fellow Northgate shareholders seen by City A.M., Crystal Amber – run by City veteran Richard Bernstein – accused Page of being "responsible for Northgate's self-defeating lack of transparency".

The letter referred to incidents such as an event held exclusively for sell-side analysts such as investment bankers and stock brokers, which excluded shareholders and prevented them form hearing management pronouncements and raising questions in public.

It also questioned why certain performance yardsticks, such as Northgate's average fleet age, had been dropped.

The company’s finance director, Patrick Gallagher, was fired in 2017 after being convicted of assault. Another bone of contention with top Northgate shareholders is that he still has not been replaced.

One major institutional shareholder in Northgate has said that it has "zero confidence" in the company's management, including Page.

Between 2002 and 2014, Page was chief executive of Frankie and Benny's and Chiquito owner The Restaurant Group. After he left the business, The Restaurant Group revealed that it had paid dividends from 2006 to 2017 which were in breach of the Companies Act. It is now working to rectify this "technical matter".

Page was approached by City A.M. for comment but had not responded at the time of publication.

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